Blunderingly, Sony Nukes PS3 Supercomputing - HotHardware

Blunderingly, Sony Nukes PS3 Supercomputing

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Not all of the researchers we spoke to believe Sony's Other OS restriction is a major problem. When we spoke to Dr. Frank Mueller, the first person to build a PS3 compute cluster, he confirmed that "there is no future to low-cost Cell clusters based on PS3s," but pointed out that researchers are already moving towards OpenCL and GPU computing.

IBM sells second-generation Cell blade severs with vastly improved double-precision floating point performance and NVIDIA is pushing GPU computing, but nothing on the market delivers the same benefits for such a low cost. The situation is made all the more frustrating by the fact that it didn't have to happen. Sony clearly knows who its HPC customers are.  It would have required a minimum amount of effort to earmark a small run of pre-Slim hardware (or a certain batch of PS3 Slims) for HPC researchers.


Sony: So afraid of pirates, they'll screw anyone to save themselves.
Although looking at this fellow, we have to admit, they might have a point.


Alternatively, the company could have continued to make such systems available to college faculty and students who had appropriate ID. Instead, Sony opted to yank the rug out from everyone at the same time, without even bothering to give the HPC folks any warning. Even if the courts eventually rule Sony's removal of Other OS functionality doesn't constitute a breach of California law, there's still something to be said for not alienating a group of customers you openly courted just three years ago.


Our future, God help us.

Gamers, of course, are the ones who will pay for Sony's mistake long term. Don't expect the scientific/HPC community to come rushing as saviors when it comes time for Sony to babble about the PS4—and without the help of this august assemblage, maybe we'll get stuck with games featuring cutting-edge 1987 graphics fidelity. Leisure Suit Larry, here we come.

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Well considering that the HPC groups bought a whole lot of the PS3 early in its lifecycle, Sony did just kinda shoot those guys in the face.

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The problem is, no one can depend on even used systems to fill the gap without first re-flashing them. For now, they can still be reflashed with old firmware until/unless Sony pulls that, too.

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Long story short:  Sony was losing money on every system sold to these guys, so decided to screw them over royally.

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3vi1:
so decided to screw them over royally

Standard practice for Sony, so it shouldn't surprise anyone at all.

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Scratch my own earlier response. I thought reflashing was possible; I'm having trouble finding information on a way to do it.

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Joel H:

Scratch my own earlier response. I thought reflashing was possible; I'm having trouble finding information on a way to do it.

Yeah, you can't downgrade - the same as it's always been with the PSP.  They do that purposely so that you can't open up security holes on the fly.

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Exactly so. (referring to an earlier message of 3vi1's, but we're not supposed to thread messages here.)

The model of videogame consoles has been, almost from the start, to sell the unit at a loss and make it up with software sales. Since these guys are never buying the latest cop-killing or World War II game, Sony will never make back that loss. (I seldom bought new games for my PS2 or Xbox 1. So Sony and Microsoft lost money on me. Nyah hah hah!) But unless they stated that a consumer agrees to buy (n) software titles over the next (m) years, but did advertise the "other OS" function as an advantage, they're open to the lawsuit.

Sony has always been a penny-wise and pound-foolish. Despite the large number of PS3s in these arrays, how much of a percentage of total unit sales do they represent? Considering the (generally) progressive uses they're put toward, and the small number of buyers who ever indulged in Linux on the PS3, I would have thought that they'd absorb the loss and just boost sales by releasing games where the men carried around even larger guns and swords, appealing even more greatly to adolescent males with masculinity issues. (A Sony tradition. It was getting pretty ridiculous in EQOA when I quit.)

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Clem, et al:

There's another angle to this that bugs me, but that I didn't have space to dive into. When it was launching the PS3 (and losing $200-$300 per console), Sony clearly thought the high-performance computing angle and Linux support were worth talking up as unique console capabilities. Marketing tools, in other words. Sony sometimes makes statements that make me wonder if the company lives on planet Earth with the rest of us, but I don't think the PS3 group was so deluded as to think everyone + dog was going to suddenly launch compute clusters or run Linux as their OS. Knowing these were niche features, they still took advantage of them to create product buzz.

If it was worth a loss of $200-$300 per console then, how is it suddenly not worth a loss 1/10 of that? Especially since PS3 hardware will begin earning Sony money in just a few months? Obviously, as others have said, this is about piracy--which (should) make it a question of whether or not the bad press and trouble created around feature removal are worth the extremely theoretical loss of pirated content. Remember, there is no underground black market in PS3 hacks--as far as anyone knows, it's been done by one person.

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I couldn't understand this article, and I don't concider myself illiterate. Then the funny pictures of Pirates and Larry's hot tub date made me think this is the most sophisticated Onion article ever. But based on the comments, it seems like legit reporting. I don't get it.

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This is an old May 2010 story.

A lot has happened since then. SONY's move to disallow Linux on PS3 boxes got them a lot of negative attention and they were hacked, cracked, and jacked because of what they did.

You haven't been hearing anything about this in the news?

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